This book uses the conceptual framework of animism, the belief in the spiritual qualities of nonhuman matter, to analyze representations of trauma in postcolonial fiction from Nigeria and India.
Toward an Animist Reading of Postcolonial Trauma Literature initiates a conversation between contemporary trauma literatures of Nigeria and India on animism. As postcolonial nations move farther away from the event of decolonization in real time, the experience of trauma take place within and is generated by an increasingly precarious environment of resource scarcity, over-accelerated industrialization, and ecological crisis. These factors combine to create mixed environments marked by constantly changing interactions between human and nonhuman matter. Examining novels by authors such as Chinua Achebe, Jhumpa Lahiri, Nnedi Okorafor, and Arundhati Roy, the book considers how animist beliefs shape the aesthetic representation of trauma in postcolonial literature, paying special attention to complex metaphor and narrative structure. These literary texts challenge the conventional wisdom that working through trauma involves achieving physical and psychic integrity in a stable environment. Instead, a type of provisional but substantive healing emerges in an animist relationship between human trauma victims and nonhuman matter. In this context, animism becomes a pivotal way to reframe the process of working through trauma.
Offering a rich framework for analyzing trauma in postcolonial literature, this book will be of interest to scholars of postcolonial literature, Nigerian literature and South Asian literature.
Table of Contents
Introduction: animating postcolonial trauma
1. Survival’s strange shape: prophecy and materiality
2. Witnessing at the limit: creative identification through dividual relation
3. Nonsentient insurgence: perception, implication, and the disunity of locale
4. Genres, possessed: trauma literature’s coming of age
Conclusion: entangling postcolonial reading
Jay Rajiva is Associate Professor of Global Anglophone Literature at Georgia State University, USA.